• Feb 14, 2011
The Hyundai Veloster is a car you should think about ge... The Hyundai Veloster is a car you should think about getting if you're looking to combat high gas prices (Hyundai).
While walking through the displays at the 2011 Detroit North American International Auto Show, we thought about what we'd recommend to AOL Autos readers. As we studied the dozens of new vehicles ranging from hybrid sedans to full-size SUVs, we knew our recommendations needed to factor in future fuel prices.

We contacted independent oil analyst Patrick DeHann. As the Senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, DeHann tracks fuel prices for tens of thousands of independent gasoline stations. What DeHann told us was sobering: "As the economy continues to grow, so does our appetite for fossil fuels. The U.S. Department of Energy consistently reports that demand for petroleum fuels has been up while at the same time, oil supplies have been at all time highs."

Unfortunately, DeHann reported, in just the last few months the supply of crude oil has dropped considerably due to cutbacks from oil producing countries. Because of this supply reduction, DeHann expects that gas prices will begin to climb. "By the time the U.S. driving season starts in May, we may see gasoline prices in the average $3.65-$4.05 per gallon, which would be the highest since 2008," he said.

The national average peaked at $4.08 in July of 2008. DeHann expects to see the highest gas prices during the EPA mandated winter-to-summer fuel blend changeover in late May, and again in August when hurricane season rolls around.

GasBuddy.com's DeHann did have some good news regarding rising fuel prices. "OPEC would likely want to curb oil prices should they rise over $110/barrel to keep the U.S. economy reliant on fossil fuels. It isn't in OPEC's interest to see demand for their product drop as a result of high pump prices," opined DeHann, who believes that OPEC will attempt to keep American fuel prices below $4 per gallon in the long run.

So what new models would we recommend to combat rising gas prices? These are our top five picks:

2012 Fiat 500

Depending on your age, you may not know that the Italian manufacturer Fiat ever sold cars in North America. Well, it did, some 27 years ago. Now Fiats are coming back, with the brand partnered with Chrysler. The 500 offers American buyers a fun, retro-styled car that's similar to the Mini Cooper.

Immensely popular in Europe, the two-door 500 hatchback is smaller than the Mini. But like it, the Fiat is roomier inside than it looks. Full-size adults won't have trouble getting comfortable in the front seats. The rear seats are a snug fit for those over 5-foot 6-inches. The trunk holds 9.5 cubic feet and the rear seats fold when you need more cargo room.

In addition to its Italian flair and undeniable cuteness, the Fiat 500 delivers EPA mileage of 30 mpg city, 38 mpg highway when equipped with the 5-speed manual transmission. With a 6-speed automatic, that improves to 27 and 34, respectively.

While the European and American 500s appear identical, our car is improved with additional safety features. With a 101-horsepower 1.4-liter four cylinder, the North American Fiat 500 also has more power, but don't expect Corvette-like acceleration. On the road, the 500 feels sporty, substantial and solid. which is good, because at a starting price $15,500, the built-in-Mexico-by-Chrysler 500 isn't cheap.

2012 Ford Focus

If you're not ready for a micro car, then the larger Ford Focus might be what you're looking for -- especially because the Focus achieves similar fuel economy.

The all-new Focus comes in a four-door sedan and sporty five-door hatchback body styles. The new Focus drives so smoothly and quietly that you might mistake it for a larger, more expensive car. Riding on a 1.3-inch longer wheelbase than 2010, the two new bodies share a crisp, modern design that is highlighted by clever details. Tiny wings molded into the rear taillamps smooth airflow and active shutters can close off the grille opening to reduce drag.

The '12 Focus gets 160 horsepower from a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder featuring direct fuel injection. However, with just 146 lb-ft of torque, the engine has to work a little to pull the car's 3,000 pounds of curb weight. A five-speed manual and Ford's new twin-clutch six-speed automatic deliver 27/36 mpg (city/highway) and 28/38 mpg, respectively. The automatic is good in traffic but feels lazy when roads get exciting. The European-tuned chassis helps makes up for the transmission. The new Focus comes in four trim levels that start at about $17,000.

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

What if you could have fuel economy that's better than the Fiat 500 or Ford Focus in a car with the room of a mid-size sedan? You can, with the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. The Sonata's all-new design was introduced last year, and the $25,795 Hybrid model is new for 2011.

Hyundai's innovative 2-motor hybrid system biases performance for the way Americans drive (fast), which is why the Sonata gets its best mileage (40 mpg) on the highway. City mileage is still an impressive 36 mpg.

The powertrain in the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is significantly different from those in other hybrids, which is why it can drive at up to 75 mph propelled only by its electric motor. This is much faster than competitive hybrids, including the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Toyota Prius.

2012 Hyundai Veloster

It's an unusual name for an unusual car: The Veloster looks like a sporty 2-door hatchback from the driver side, but it's not. When you look at the car from the passenger side, you realize it has two doors on that side of the vehicle, giving it a total of three doors plus the hatch. The design is brilliant in its practicality because it simultaneously gives the driver easy access to the front seat while making things convenient for passengers on the curbside.

This innovative and practical design gives the Veloster a bold advantage over traditional two- and four-door compact cars. Equipped with a high-tech, direct-injected 1.6-liter engine, the Veloster has 138 horsepower. Because the latest Hyundai won't be in dealerships until hurricane season, EPA mileage figures aren't yet available. Hyundai did announce that it expects 40 mpg highway.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

What if you could instantly become immune to gasoline price swings? Driving a Chevrolet Volt could be your ticket to freedom from gasoline, provided you commute less than 35 miles and have a place to plug in to recharge the car's batteries.

Unfortunately, scoring a 2011 Chevrolet Volt may be a problem that's bigger than its $41,000 price tag. Currently, orders far exceed Chevrolet's manufacturing capacity through the end of the year. (Production volumes will increase for 2012.) While driving a new Volt, which gets the equivalent of 93 mpg when running on electricity, is a great high-tech experience, practically, it may make sense to drive something more conventional and less costly.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Obama refuses to allow domestic drilling, i.,e. offshore, gulf and Alaska. We are paying $4.00 for gasoline now and groceries are going through the ceiling. After paying for all this inflation, all we will have left is change. Is that the change you voted for when you elected Obama? Obama is an abomination and a failure as President. Are you better off with Obama? Not me and not many folks I know. Finally, do you like UN contril over American Forces? Obama does! Vote the loser out in 2012!
        R L Baker
        • 3 Years Ago
        The fourth largest oil field in the world in within the borders of the U S. Why the hell are we not drilling here and not in 5000 feet of water? The oil under this country belongs to the people and not to an oil giant. Why doesn't the government invest in its own drilling and refineries with the profit going into the treasury. Hell we could drastically reduce the debt and cut prices at the same time.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why hasn't VW merged a their highly efficient TDI engine with a hybrid drivetrain?!! Also, the 84 honda CRX got 41mpg city and 50 mpg highway. Stop making cars bigger and heavier!
      • 3 Years Ago
      The sooner Http://www.hybridcarplace.com we don't have to be dependent on oil the better, I like these cars.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Volt is another in a long line of pathetic jokes from America car makers. $40,000 for an "eco" car--funny.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Buy a good horse.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why not do a real news story and tell the American people about all the diesel cars in Europe that get over 50 and some 60 mpg? These cars are being sold in the UK today but we aren't allowed to buy them here. Maybe the President and Congress should act today and allow for the immediate import of these cars.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Too bad you can't shoot your SUV gas hog and eat it, because that's probably what your going to be forced to do. Look around, the party is over. Just like the cowboys and their Horses, your dinosaur is soon to be extinct. Why are you denying reality?
      • 3 Years Ago
      No cheap gas? Thank Obama!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Most of the cars shown are based on European, Japan and Korea designs. I live 1700 miles from home. Now if I lived in Europe that would be similar to driving from London to Moscow. Not a jaunt around the corner. How will we take 43 or more children to Hockey or Soccer practise in one of those cars. Will we have to teach kids to sit on the roof? Why are there no discussions on using oil that is in the US and not allowing it to be shipped out of the country.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wish i could buy petrol for $4.00 a gallon.......here in Australia its $1.40 per litre....thats $6.00 per US gallon!!! Try making a living with a population of 20 million,you guys have cheaper fuel,travel shorter distances for work or jobs and still have 300 million potential customers. Take dvantage of it whilst it last P.S. our home loan interest rates are 7.3 to 7.5%.......what are yours????? 2.9? Ive heard that you can buy a 3 bedroom house in the US for $75,000?....unheard of in australia!, I live in a small town? population 5000 people,basic shops,one doctor about 100km (65miles) from sydney.....cheapest house one bedroom 50-60 years old $275,000. Wish i could move to the states.....i would be rich!!!!!!!!!!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      It makes no difference where the parts on the vehicle were made or where the vehicle is manufactiured. It is who walks away with the most profit. Get clue. This is earth not Mars.
      • 3 Years Ago
      First of all, the "per barrel" price of oil is set by the market, not the oil companies. Oil is traded in U.S. dollars. The value of our dollar has been erroded by deficit spending, which has caused the price of ALL commodities, including oil to rise. (You now need more dollars to buy the same amount of stuff you could buy a year ago, before Obamacare, Government Motors, Fannie & Freddie and all the rest.) That much, is a fact. The answer is not electric cars...where do you think the electricity comes from to re-charge the car? What do you think that electricity is made from? Cars like the Prius are ****************, buzzing Easter egg cars. You really call that a "car"? Only a touchy-feely Lib would drive such a poor excuse for a car! The answer is right beneath our feet...yet we refuse to consider that as an option...why? These are the same people who want air power and solar power but refuse to see that this is not commercially viable. It costs $5-6MM to build one wind turbine and how many dollars worth of electricity can it generate in its' operating lifetime? Not $5-6MM worth! You shameless, ignorant Liberal morons! You think you are on the intellectual high ground when you couldn't be further from the truth. But I digress. Buy a big SUV like a Tahoe or an Escalade and help Government Motors become private again! ZoningDave
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